4 Lessons This Entrepreneur Wishes She Could Have Taught Her Younger Self
Looking back sharpens your vision going forward.
They say hindsight is 20/20, which is often true. While it can be frustrating to see so clearly now when looking back at the mistakes or issues we've had in business, looking honestly at our past provides us with the wisdom needed to make better decisions moving forward.
When I reflect on my younger entrepreneur self, I see a lot of successes and just as many failures. I am a different person now, but there are many lessons learned from my early days I continue to rely on. Here are four that stand out that can help many businesswomen -- from those just starting out to seasoned executives.
1. Trust your gut.
You are going to hear a lot of advice during your life, both good and bad. You should listen to others, but the final decision should rest with you, and you should always trust your gut. The reason is simple: Your gut is smarter than you think. Science believes our gut is like a second brain. I’ve realized that many times I knew the correct course of action but talked myself out of it believing -- because I lacked experience -- someone else’s wisdom must be better.
Following your gut instinct tends to be the best move, and it also teaches you to own your decisions. Many times when I felt I was making the wrong business decision, my head kept reasoning that my feeling was wrong and I could make it work. Time and time again I have learned those feelings were right. I now sit on decisions a little longer than my younger self would have. I wait to see if my positive feelings remain, or if I start to feel warning signs that I shouldn’t move forward on a decision.
At the end of the day, you have to live with the choices you make, so trusting your intuition is important.
Related: Why 'Trust Your Gut' Is a Myth
2. Invest in positive people.
Not everyone, in business or in life, will like you. My younger self tried to change the minds of those who didn't support me. In hindsight, this was a waste of my time and effort.
Always focus most on the people who care about you and are there to support your goals. Everyone is on their own journey. You can’t convince someone to feel differently, or persuade them to make decisions based on what you want. The path of least resistance is to surround ourselves with people who like and support us.
3. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
I was sick with a thyroid condition after I had my second son and couldn't exercise. Yoga was the only activity my doctor allowed. Initially I was not a fan of the practice, but I gradually learned how to do the poses. The process of trying, failing, trying again and eventually succeeding taught me to be less critical of myself when things don’t work out as I expected. Yoga showed me that it’s okay to fall until I learned the right way to balance.
Just as in yoga, when you try something new in business, you often don't succeed at first. Accept it. Give yourself a break when things go south. Find that place of balance and focus again on your original business goals. Pick yourself up, learn from the experience and try, try again.
4. Always enjoy what you do.
Yes, you want a business that is successful, pays well and allows you to enjoy a nice life, but your decisions should always be based on what you are passionate about first. It is much easier to be successful in a job you love than to find enjoyment in a career you don’t necessarily like but pays well. Owning a business means long hours, personal investment and no guarantee of success. Yet, when you have a passion for your work, you don’t mind putting in the extra time and effort when necessary, or doing with less until your business takes off.
Looking back at my earlier businesses, I learn a lot about myself -- what motivated me and drove my decision-making. While I would have benefited from the insight I have now sooner, what I have learned over time shapes how I approach my work now. Rather than feeling fear when things are tough in business, I remind myself that I've been here before and got through it. I use that to stay steady and focused on the desired result.
My hope is that what I have learned can be of value to you.
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